Calls for communities to help reintegrate offenders

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Pretoria - Correctional Services Minister Sibusiso Ndebele has reiterated calls for communities to play their part in ensuring that offenders serving sentences outside correctional centres are reintegrated as law-abiding citizens.

“In addition to the 152 550 inmates serving sentences inside a correctional centre, there are presently 63 240 offenders serving sentences outside correctional centres, who live in their respective communities,” said Ndebele in a statement on Sunday.

Of the 63 240 offenders, 48 323 are on parole, 14 917 are probationers (convicted offenders serving non-custodial sentences) and an additional 1 719 are awaiting-trial detainees. Every month about 23 000 inmates exit correctional centres, and 25 000 new inmates are admitted.

“As corrections is a societal responsibility, and not just the responsibility of the Department of Correctional Services (DCS), the community forms an integral part of the rehabilitation of offenders on parole to reintegrate them as law-abiding citizens. Parole is used internationally to place offenders under supervision within the community, the minister said.

Parole refers to a period whereby an offender, who has served the prescribed minimum detention period of his sentence in a correctional centre, is conditionally released to serve the remainder of his sentence in the community under the supervision of the DCS.

Therefore, parole is not the end of a sentence but an offender serving the rest of his sentence under supervision within the community.

The parole policy provides for credible members of communities to chair the Correctional Supervision and Parole Boards (CSPBs) which have been allocated decision-making authority.

“Through the Victim-Offender Dialogues, DCS aims to strengthen current rehabilitation, and re-integration, programmes. The trilogy of victim, offender and community is paramount,” said the minister.

Measures are in place to ensure that released offenders comply with their parole conditions include house detention, monitoring, performance of community service, restriction to magisterial district, refraining from the use of alcohol or illegal drugs, refraining from making contact with a particular person(s), and participating in treatment, development and support programmes.

Where a person subject to parole has failed to comply with any condition imposed on him/her, DCS may apply the following sanctions: reprimand the parolee, issue a verbal warning, issue a written warning, and revoke parole supervision.

On 10 January 2013, Riku Nortje, 37 years, Correctional Services 2011 top university student who was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1996, was released on parole after serving 16 years of his life sentence at the Leeuwkop Correctional Centre.

Nortje started serving his sentence at the age of 21, and only had Grade 10. Upon his release, he had a Master’s degree in computer science from UNISA. He graduated with distinction in 2011.

Between 2001 and 2005, he studied towards a Bachelor’s degree in computer sciences and mathematics and graduated with distinction. In 2006, he moved on to study for a BSc Honours in computer sciences and graduated with a distinction in 2009. –